How Can We Speed Up the Dinosaur?

After reading Gerstein’s assigned article, I really got to thinking about what is needed to move to Education 3.0. Although I am not a teacher, I know from my son and my nieces and nephews that many teachers still use a very traditional, Web 1.0, method of teaching. Furthermore, I work at a university and I believe that 95% of instructors use a Web 1.0  approach in teaching their courses. Furthermore, universities are dinosaurs and change is very slow to come. While some instructors may see the value of self-directed learning and the use of technology, others do not.


flickr photo shared by katerha under a Creative Commons license

The first question I asked myself is what does teaching look like in Education 3.0? Thankfully Gerstein covered this very well in her blog post Show Learners the Possibilities and then Get Out of the Way. According to Gerstein, most transformative learning is self-directed. Learners are given the freedom to decide what they are going to learn and how. The traditional role of the teacher has to change in order for this to happen. Gerstein outlined what this role should look like. Teachers should act as observers, as resources for their students (mentors and experts), and they should demonstrate technology to students. What results is emergent, fun learning. Gerstein describes it as messy and unpredictable. However, she believes that deeper more meaningful learning takes place as a result. This tweet sums up Gerstein’s philosophy of Education 3.0 well:

Where does technology fit in? In order to give learners “voice and choice”, they have to have open access to technology and be able to use technological tools in whatever ways help them best learn and demonstrate their learning.

I think Gerstein’s approach is excellent, and when employed would result in confident, creative students. One thing I question is whether not students might feel overwhelmed by all the choices available to them in this model. However, I think with supportive teachers who act as mentors and coaches the students will come to feel comfortable exploring and creating.

As far as I know, Gerstein’s model of teaching for Education 3.0 is not commonly applied. For example, in Benita‘s blog post she mentioned that teacher’s might be too rooted in tradition in order to adapt to Education 3.0. In addition, Erin questioned why teachers do not seem to be moving toward this model of teaching. She wondered whether it might be that teachers are hesitant because they can’t clearly see what their new roles will be, and are scared of the unknown. As I am not a teacher, I question whether this has something to do with the way that teachers have been trained. For those of you with education degrees, please let me know. Do you feel like university prepared you to teach in Education 3.0?

In terms of university teaching moving toward Education 3.0, I believe a systemic change is needed. At the U of R, I know that there are some champion professors who teach in a way that they hope leads to transformative learning. However, many professors are focused very strictly on sharing content with little or no interaction or technology. I came across a great article called Why the University of the Future Will Have No Classrooms but Lots of Tech. The article explains how a former MIT Dean, Christine Ortiz, is building a new kind of university that is preparing students for the 21st century. She believes that universities have been teaching the same way since the middle ages, and that universities take far too long to make decisions. We certainly have not come as far as predicted, judging from this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Ortiz’s idea is to build a non-profit research institution (open by 2020) that allows students to design their own learning pathway independent of discipline. Technology plays a key role. Her team has developed a “software platform for computer-guided intelligent curriculum design” to help guide students learning. Here is a great quote from Ortiz:

The world’s challenges do not fit neatly under a single subject area, rather they are interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, and require diverse thinking to develop solutions, which our higher education system currently does not facilitate.

Granted this is only one example of Education 3.0 in Higher Ed, it really is a great one. We know that governments are spending less and less on education, and institutions are relying on tuition dollars more than ever. I do believe that higher ed intuitions will have to adapt in order to compete. The U of R may never get to where Ortiz’s institution is, but I  hopefully teaching practices will evolve and technology will become more integrated into the traditional classroom.






10 thoughts on “How Can We Speed Up the Dinosaur?

  1. adamkrammer says:

    Creating confident students through use of the new Web 3.0 is absolutely needed in order to supplement and help reshape learning in the classroom. Excellent job on your post Naomi, you were able to get to the essence of the issue seemingly with ease.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elizabeth Therrien says:

    Great post! I actually find myself at a crossroads in teaching high school. I want to prepare my students for the future – being 21st century learners – but I also want them to feel successful and prepared for university. I know many of my grade 12s will be pursuing post-secondary education – the U of R being a primary choice – and I want them to have practice in those kinds of settings so it is not a culture shock when they first arrive. However, like you mention, some classes and teachers are not embracing the 21st century teaching style that I would like to embrace in my classroom. Am I therefore doing a disservice to my students that will be pursuing their education at the U of R? Then again, when I don’t incorporate the technology and the Web 2.0, am I doing them a disservice for being a part of this technological society? What do you think we should do as teachers, both in preparing students for society and for university?


    • Naomi Deren says:

      Thanks for your reply Elizabeth, it is great to hear from Grade 12 teachers. I really do think it is important to incorporate technology and prepare students for this ‘technological society’. But if you want me to be quite honest, I see many students who are not prepared for university, and it seems there are more and more every year. The biggest things that they have trouble with are writing, time management and identifying key concepts. So I think the best solution would be to incorporate technology, but also try to build some of those university skills. I think you could use technology to teach some of those skills. For example, since I have learned about Google Read and Write I have recommended several students use it to help them with editing. Also, there are some excellent time management tools available online.


    • warren3h says:

      Elizabeth, I wonder the same. I think we need to consider all learners. Some of our students are going to be headed towards universities of their choosing and they need to know how to study, write papers, site sources, write exams, etc. Others will be heading to trades and require hands on learning. Yet some students might go directly into the work force or travel. All require skill sets that are not identical. I think it is about providing choices and options in the high school level. I agree with you that you do need to provide opportunity for your students to practice the skills they will need in their futures and in some cases that is providing some traditional web 1.0 learning and assessment.


  3. Natalie Schapansky says:

    I agree with your statements about the slow evolution of change in Universities. You asked if University prepared teachers for 3.0. Well, I think the change happening outside of universities is faster that what is happening inside and also – we are only there for four years (less as an after degree) so it’s hard to facilitate enough understanding in that time. So, in short – No – it didn’t prepare me, but I’m not sure it could’ve? That’s also why I believe it’s so important to be lifelong learners. I appreciate your analogy of the dinosaur as well. Well done.


  4. asingh2 says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Naomi! It is interesting to hear from a non-teacher in this realm I find because I think as educator we can sometimes (unintentionally) narrow our perspectives on a situation without it!

    As for your question as to whether or not University prepared us to work beyond the Web 1.0 realm. I don’t have an answer for you, just my perspective.

    For me, I have grown through the evolution of technology. I remember getting our first internet connection and learning what I could do with that. I remember my first cell phone, and moving into the texting realm, and transferring to all things wi-fi. The point is, for me, technology has always been something I’ve taken a special interest in, and that I’ve liked playing around with. So I would say for me, yes University helped to foster that desire, but the drive was already kind of there. I learned more about how to better use technology within an educational environment, (now even more so) but it was at least partly because my interest directed me to experiment and to learn more about it.

    I think each teacher brings their own strengths to their classrooms, and I couldn’t possibly say how much of that falls into web 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0, but I am glad that in my role I get to work with classrooms and teachers to help facilitate some of those really wonderful technology pieces!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Erin Benjamin says:

    I feel that my undergraduate experience gave me an introductory glimpse at Education 3.0. The program definitely had the intention of guiding teachers to facilitate students in self-directed learning but it becomes very difficult for a new teacher to step into a brand new school, in a position/grade level that could also be brand new, and teach students in this Education 3.0. I think we revert to what we see others doing and very few are teaching in this self-directed manner. I’m not sure how we make this change.


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